When Nancy said she wanted me to be a part of her wedding to Linetta, I knew it would be in another state. It was years before the glorious ruling from the Supreme Court on marriage equality. Today we celebrate the 5 year anniversary of the day we read the words of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg:
They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
Many years before she got married and long before the Obergefell ruling, Nancy made the choice to use her single voice to work for change. In the 1980s I was a dues paying member of the Nebraska National Organization for Women. But married with two young children and a busy solo law practice, I’d never attended a meeting.
Nancy kept calling. From her landline to mine she gently begged, “Just come once.” I finally relented. She was the only other person in attendance. By 1991 I was the president of the state chapter and a vocal ally for the gay and lesbian community. All because Nancy kept calling.
Twenty-five years later, it was my turn to pick up the phone. I called my friend Amy at the ACLU. “There’s no one suing for marriage equality in our state. It’s time. And our firm wants to help.”
Courageous couples willing to tell their stories came forth. Susan and Sally. Nick and Jason. Crystal and Carla. Greg and Bill. Jessica and Kathleen. Randy and Tom. Marj and Tracy. Each choosing to use their voice.
For me, speaking up took no great courage. The privileges of being cisgender, white, able bodied, and self-employed have given me a lifetime of protection. Contrast that in this Pride month– on the anniversary of the Orlando massacre in a gay nightclub, in the middle of a pandemic—LGBTQ people were informed that they can again be discriminated against in health care.
Author Carolyn Myss says that choice is our greatest power. I believe her. If we do not want to experience helplessness and hopelessness in the face of all that is unfolding around us, we can make a choice. We can use our voice.
Just like Nancy.
Today we celebrate the historic ruling on marriage equality and all of the brave plaintiffs who raised their voices together. May we honor them by never ceasing to make the choice to be a voice.
What one voice impacted your life in a big way?
What choices to use your voice are you making in your life?
Where are you being called to use your voice to make a difference?